Participation handbook

This handbook provides a guide to good practice in participation work across Scottish Government. It provides information about participatory methods and when to use them, the development of an effective participation strategy, and signposts to further resources.

Next steps

One of the purposes of this guidance is to support informed discussions with government colleagues and analysts about developing effective engagements and delivering these in successful collaboration with a contracting organisation that has skills and expertise in this field.

It is important that officials are well informed about what good quality participation work looks like and that they understand how to plan their work to include meaningful opportunities for the public to participate in government decision-making or service design. Throughout 2024, a Participation Procurement Framework is being set up. This will provide a quicker and easier route for government officials to commission good quality participatory work with specialist and experienced organisations, and this guidance supports effective working relationships with these organisations.

Time and budget required for different methods will vary depending on factors like:

  • the number and range of people to be involved
  • geographical spread
  • participants’ support and access needs
  • nature and scope of issues being considered

These are all dimensions of your engagement that you should consider further with analysts in your policy area and contractors delivering this work who will have a view on or will take responsibility for:

  • designing a sampling strategy
  • choosing the most appropriate methods
  • drawing on existing evidence
  • commissioning social research
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • ethics
  • participant expenses and remuneration

You should contact the Digital Engagement Team at the earliest possible stage, so that they are aware of your work: They can advise on digital engagement plans, and if needed can support your engagement work using digital platforms such as Citizen Space and Dialogue



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